There are plenty of things that we forget about while writing. Plenty of important details that slip our minds. At first you might think I’m referencing that time you forgot to pick your child up from school because you were writing a particularly engaging chapter, but I’m actually talking about things we forget in our actual story. I’m talking about things that pop up in our lives on a daily basis that, because they aren’t remarkable, we don’t think to mention.
I’m talking about:
- A phone call from a friend
- Needing to go to the bathroom
- Needing to eat
- Having to blow your nose or sneeze
- Tripping over your own feet
- Losing power
- Having your car break down
And the list goes on.
That’s not to say these things should always be in your book. I don’t want to hear about it every time your character has to pee, or munches on some M&Ms. But if they perpetually munch on M&Ms, that’s a trait. Or if they have to go to the bathroom when they’re about to walk into the interview room, that’s a problem (though you might generally want to leave that part out). You get the gist of it.
These things are often overlooked, but sometimes they are perfect for your story. You might be wondering how things can possibly get any worse for your character (and I assure you they always can) – what if there was a tornado? Or hurricane? Or a lightning strike that caused a power outage on the whole block? What if they were too busy to take their car into the shop when the check engine light came on at the beginning of the book, and then thirty chapters later it breaks down at a critical moment? These events, used correctly, can add tension and drama.
It’s hard to remember the things you always forget while writing (you’re welcome for that amazing piece of insight), but it’s worth it to try. It’s worth it to spend some time reaching far and wide in your mind, trying to figure out what’s missing, what you can add, how you can be more creative. Think of a problem that’s unique to your situation, something readers wouldn’t expect, some wrinkle in the situation that hasn’t been beaten to death by other writers. Cast your thoughts as far out as you can before reeling something back in. The added elements of your story are something that people will notice and appreciate.
What do you sometimes forget while writing that would be a good addition to a story? On the flip side, what part of everyday life is boring or awkward and shouldn’t be mentioned?